Pane Di Pasqua: The Story Behind this Traditional Easter Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 loaves
  • For the sponge
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to 110 degrees
  • 3 teaspoons of dry yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • For the dough
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ pound of butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5 cups of flour (plus additional for kneading)
  • Other Ingredients
  • 6 colored eggs (raw)
  • multi colored sprinkles
  1. To make the sponge, mix all the ingredients in a bowl (you can use either a wooden spoon or a stand mixer); put in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise to more than double in size (I left mine for a couple of hours)
  2. When doubled in size, you are ready to make the dough; punch the dough down and add the sugar and the 4 egg yolks to the sponge.
  3. In a stand-up mixer, add the salt, flour and butter and mix until it resembles a coarse meal; add the sponge mixture and knead until it forms a smooth dough.
  4. Place in a buttered bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (again, I left mine for a few hours).
  5. Divide into 12 balls. Roll each ball into a 13-15 inch long rope. Take three ropes and braid them together and form a circle by pinching the ends together; repeat with remaining dough. You can also make a figure eight shape leaving room for two eggs.
  6. Place the dough onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper leaving enough room between each bread; place colored uncooked egg in the middle of the dough, cover and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  8. Brush the loaves with a bit of milk and top with sprinkles.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. (bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).
  10. When done put on a cooling rack and allow to completely cool before eating.
  11. Wrap the doughs in plastic wrap (they are best eaten within a few days).
  12. Additional Note: Real “authentic" Italian Easter Breads have mixed candy fruits, blanched almonds and anise seeds. My grandmother eliminated all of that but you can experiment. You can also make one giant braided loaf with the eggs and ice it with a glaze made of confectioners sugar and either lemon or milk and then add sprinkles (after its cooked). This is a very forgiving dough and you could add chocolate, nuts, etc and probably bake in a loaf pan. Cinnamon might be a good flavor too!
Recipe by Just Crumbs at